Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'd Like to Apologize in Advance

by Robison Wells

Last night on Law And Order: SVU, the murderer killed her roommate because of a medical condition known as Sleep Deprivation Psychosis. It has me a little bit paranoid now, because we had a baby eleven days ago, and my wife hasn't slept since. So, when I wash up on the shores of the East River, having been stabbed in the chest with a pen and thrown off of a ferry, you'll know who's to blame.

Babies are trouble. Sure, they may look cute enough, but they're actually devious and underhanded, waiting just until you sit down to start crying. They lull you into a false sense of security, eating really well and pretending like they're falling asleep, and then--BLECH!--all the milk comes back up.

Speaking of milk, I want to declare two things, and I'll do so proudly: my wife had an epidural, and we're bottle-feeding this baby. My pride in this is not to say that we're smarter than those who don't do those things, but just that there's a whole bunch of people who get really militant about that sort of stuff, and WE DON'T CARE. For example: the La Leche League, which annoys me. Also: the doula in my ward who shouts at random strangers when they pass her in the hallway, and tells them they should have their babies on the kitchen table, or something. (I don't really know what she shouts, because I'm exaggerating.)

People get a little too freaking worked up about babies, in my opinion. Granted, I know there's a reader out there somewhere who is saying "when you're wife murders you because of Sleep Deprivation Psychosis, I'll be here to say 'I told you so'". To that reader, I say: shut up. No one wants to hear from you.

Seriously, why is it that women are so hard on each other? I remember a Women's Conference not too long ago where the entire focus seemed to be: "no one's perfect, so why don't you women be nice to each other, 'kay?" And yet, it seems like when it comes to things like breastfeeding or childbirth or potty training or getting your kids to eat, or any other parenting activity, there's an awful lot of black-and-white judgmental activism. (And, in my experience, there's no more vicious a fighting pit than the benches that surround a playground.)

Men, on the other hand, could care less. If we discovered a method that would make a baby stop crying, we would shout it from the rooftops and be named Man of the Year--whether it be breastfeeding, pacifiers, sedatives, or duct tape. (Better yet, if we discovered a method that would prevent us from ever getting into a situation where we'd be trying to get a baby to stop crying, we'd immediately be crowned as gods.)

I've been trying to think of a male situation that compares to women arguing about parenting, and I don't think there really is one. The best I can come up with is sports: men get passionate about sports, and we want other men to know how smart we are on the subject, and to get them to agree with us. However, there's a key difference between men talking about sports and women talking about parenting: men lie. "Can you believe that the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira for $180 million?" "Oh, don't get me started on the Yankees!" (Translated: "I don't really watch baseball.")

I'm going to recommend that my wife begin to apply this method (lying) around the playground.

My Wife: "I had my baby eleven days ago."

Doula: "I hope you had it natural, in a bathtub."

My Wife: "Of course! Heck, we didn't even use a mid-wife or a doula--we did it ourselves. And then I went and did the laundry."

La Leche Leaguer: "And you're breastfeeding?"

My Wife: "Of course! In fact, I purposely go to public places to breastfeed--without a blanket, of course--just to promote the cause! The more awkward, the better!"

La Leche Leaguer: "Fight the Power!"

My Wife: "No blood for oil! Or whatever!"

Disclaimer: I didn't actually run this blog past my wife before I posted it this morning, so she might not be happy that I'm publically discussing her breastfeeding and childbirth methods. Consequently, when I'm fished out of the East River and she claims she's Not Guilty By Reason of Sleep Deprivation Psychosis, you'll know the truth.


At 1/14/2009 11:15 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Well said. Here's my theory: Motherhood is such a huge part of a woman's identity. In many ways, it's what defines who we are. Yet moms don't get quarterly reviews or raises based on their performance. So maybe that's why we get so uppity about these things--we're trying to find SOME way to validate that yes, we're doing okay at this important job.

It gets tiresome, though. With my oldest, I bristled every time a certain other mom was around, because she was constantly comparing our babies and saying why hers was better and she was the better mom.

Her comments don't bother me anymore. Could be that I've matured past such sillines. Or that now I'm just too lazy to care what people like her think.

Hope you don't wash up on the river bank or anything.

At 1/14/2009 11:56 AM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

We'll miss you, Rob.

Also, lying works well for the pediatrician, too.

At 1/14/2009 12:17 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I'm actually reading someone's dissertation on "unassisted childbirth" right now. This is where you do have your baby on the kitchen table or bathtub or whatever, but you don't even have a midwife around, let alone an anesthesiologist. Personally, who needs an obstetrician when what you really need is that epidural?

Anyway, it's fascinating, so you should go read it at

Congrats on the new baby and smart choices! (And I say this as a nurse-in-public hippy type myself.)

At 1/14/2009 12:18 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

No need for apologies. I love your post. I suck at breastfeeding. (No pun intended) I did 2 weeks with my first, 10 days with my 2nd and 5 days with my 3rd. I did always feel like people look down on me when I was bottlefeeding my babies. Hopefully I'll be over that with my 4th (No announcemen here. Just whenever that happens to be) I'll probably only endure 3-4 days with the 4th and then the cabbage leaves are coming out.

At 1/14/2009 1:28 PM, Blogger Janice said...

If I hadn't taken the epidural I would have been knocked out for the emergency cessearian of my oldest and missed the whole thing. That would have sucked. Speaking of sucks. Bottle fed babies have stinkier diapers than breast fed babies. That's a choice you have to live with every day of your babies first year. Then the diapers all stink equally.

At 1/14/2009 1:52 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Can I be the reader that criticizes you for using the wrong word in the phrase "when you're wife"?

Also for spoiling LAST NIGHT'S SVU? C'mon, man! I can only watch 2 hours of TV and we chose the Mentalist and Without a Trace last night (but secretly wished for another 2 hours of 24). Tomorrow will be SVU! Sheesh. That'll teach me to read your blogs and expect nothing but fluff.

At 1/14/2009 2:02 PM, Anonymous ally condie said...

As a mother of a semi-newborn (6 months, but still waking up every two hours, so I think that counts!) let me just say how much I loved this post.

At 1/14/2009 3:11 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I know you're joking about it, but women really and truly do get all up in arms about this stuff.

I'm very tired of being told that my choices are wrong, when they're MY choices to make. I'm sure for most kids breastfeeding is best. It wasn't the right choice for my kids. Like my first 12 pounder who did not get enough nutrition and was literally crying every half hour to eat. I couldn't let him starve. I'm silly that way, I suppose.

And I've never had any desire for a natural childbirth (not that I could have one what with the 12 pound babies and all) and despite the fact that my mother did it nine times, I really and truly don't get why anybody would voluntarily be in that much pain (I'm big on the pain avoidance). Although, if anyone saw that recent 20/20 motherhood episode, I suppose not everyone has pain while giving birth. (And that is all I'm going to say about that.)

At 1/14/2009 4:16 PM, Blogger Anna said...

My new baby is 5 days old, and I am starting to relive those sleepless nights.

I believe that whatever works for a woman is what works for her. For my first, I wanted to see how long I could go without an epidural and if I could deliver without one. But when after 17 hours of labor and nothing happening, the doctor recommended that a c-section would be the only way to get the baby out. So unless I wanted to feel them cut me open, I was going to have an epidural. And it didn't bother me in the least. I think natural and without pain medication would be best, but whatever you need is what you need.

My sister in law delivered her last one without an epidural, and she said it was her easiest delivery. It worked for her.

Also, I choose to bottlefeed my kids. I haven't ever felt downgraded by that choice by people. I know there are people out there that believe it's wrong, but like I said, what works for one person, doesn't work for another.

At 1/15/2009 3:05 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

We've come a long way, Baby!

All I can say is that an epidural is a gift from God. And I'll take all the heavenly gifts available.

At 1/16/2009 2:29 PM, Blogger pwells said...

When I watched SVU I thought of Erin.

At 1/19/2009 1:07 PM, Blogger Micah Bruner said...

Why would Erin kill you and drag you all the way to New York to dump you in the East River?!

Incidentally, how could you NOT follow the Yankees (they're a baseball team, right?).

At 1/21/2009 6:44 PM, Blogger Susan Corpany Curtis said...

Perhaps someday we will figure out, not just with childbirthing and rearing, that there can be many ways to do it right.

As a new first-time mother, I went to a La Leche League meeting on the problems of nursing. I didn't hear any problems truly considered, though, just glossed over like doubts in gospel doctrine class. One lady who complained that her three-year-old got into mischief while she was breastfeeding her twins was told that it was a good time to read a story to the older one or help her put together a puzzle. With her feet? I wondered.

Then I comitted the unpardonable and got out a bottle of juice for my baby. The reaction I got was rather what one might expect if I had lit up a cigarette during Sacrament Meeting. (Perhaps the La Leche ladies have that third breast that dispenses apple juice.) I honestly thought it would be okay to give my baby a bottle during the meeting without feeling like a serial killer.

What is needful at times like these is for more women who are willing to have the confidence to say "That may have worked for you, but I'm . . ."

Like the bullies on the playground, sometimes what is needed is for someone to just stand up for themselves. "Sister Jenkins, you need to understand that you can't bully me into breastfeeding."


"That's great that natural childbirth worked for you, Linda, but I'm one of those people with a low threshhold for pain and an even lower threshhold for people who think their way is the only way."

Some of us like watching our labor pains on the monitor.

As a nursing mother, I encountered a different problem, a grandmother who believed I had no mother's milk and told me regularly that I was starving my son to death, because of her own bad experience as a young mother. I finally got frustrated at her at a family party and told her that if she told me once more that I had no milk, I was going to take off my blouse and squirt her in the face. I realized that I had raised my voice a little too much when suddenly a large crowd of men gathered around . . .

Women, start standing up for yourself and others.


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